Opening Day for our national pastime is Sunday, April 2. David DeJesus may have officially retired officially last week, but Patrick Kivlehan’s improbable journey continued with an opening day roster spot on the Cincinnati Reds. Kivlehan joins White Sox slugger Todd Frazier as the only former Scarlet Knights lacing them up in “The Show” as the regular season commences.
The process of waivers, being on or off a team’s 40 man roster, can be arduous. As officially a non-roster invitee to spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, Kivlehan got an opportunity with the Reds. As a rebuilding team, Cincinnati does their best to monitor the workload of their young pitchers. To achieve this, they kept more pitchers on the roster which means the versatility of position players like Kivlehan is paramount. He has played a both corner infield and both corner outfield spots this year. As a result, with each passing day as more players got sent to minor league camp, Patrick kept seeing his name on the list of available players that day, and kept producing when inserted into the games. He stayed hot down in the site of Reds spring training to the tune of a .370 batting average with two homers in 54 at-bats.
Rewind the clock to 2011 after the Rutgers football season ended with a win over Iowa State in the Pinstripe Bowl when the eligibility on the gridiron ran out for players like Kivlehan. He decided to join the Scarlet Knights baseball team, the first time he had played organized baseball since his days at St. Joseph’s (Montvale, N.J.) High School. After surprising many by becoming a starter for RU, he became the Big East player of the year (winning the Triple Crown plus 24 SBs for good measure). His name was called in the 4th round of the MLB draft by the Mariners. After performing well at every stop in the minors, Patrick got a shot with San Diego late in 2016. He naturally shocked everyone (including his own team) by homering in his first major league game. Shortly thereafter he ended up back with the Reds (though not as simple as it sounds).
Let’s hope the change of venue to northern cities much closer to where he grew up in West Nyack, NY, doesn’t cool down Patrick’s bat. With only 4 position players available off their bench every day, one of which being the backup catcher who only gets inserted in emergencies, Kivlehan should get opportunities as a pinch hitter, pinch runner, and defensive replacement early in the year. If he continues to hit, perhaps his starting assignments could become more regular and the journey will add an even more unlikely chapter.
Continued luck in 2017!